Monday, November 1, 2010

In praise of swatching

I had such a weird weekend, which I guess is appropriate since Halloween is meant to be weird. And I did do a lot of Halloweening, so, you know.

What I didn't do very much was knit. That is just so unlike me! I brought some socks along to a party and looked at them and couldn't immediately tell which row I'd left off at, which was a big hint I shouldn't attempt going on with them just then. And I didn't even look at my Clockwork project, though not literally since I moved it off the coffee table and set it on the side one. Which is really a sewing machine. Which should have been open for sewing because I have rather a lot of that to do but am not doing it because of the knitting.

Should you really call it a coffee table if you aren't so much of a coffee drinker? Tea table implies something very different, doesn't it, with multiple levels and wheels. Never mind.

What knitting I did do was swatching.

Some knitters actually enjoy swatching as much as anything because it lets them play with different yarns to see what they will do, and when I come across somebody like that I envy them the joy they take in that process, because I am so impatient. For me, swatching is like, gah. Putting down a lot of newspaper and taping it in place before transforming a room with paint. I want to get on with the transforming, already.

And that reminds me, I saw an ad for paint that is so low-odor, you can move back into a room an hour after applying the last coat. That sounds fabulous, assuming you can move the furniture back in that same hour, because I have a lot of window frames that need attention. Attention they haven't been getting because I have been too busy knitting. Or do I mean, Not Swatching?

Yes, that's what I'm getting at. Swatching is so important, even if you don't love it for itself alone, because it saves time in the end.

I have this luscious - and I mean honestly, just irresistible - yarn on one of my favourite circular needles with a bright red beaded stitch marker and if I have to frog it one more time I am going to go totally crazypants. And I know I will, because after I-have-lost-count, but many, attempts I have still not hit on my dream stitch for this project, and furthermore I think I am knitting it into a size bigger than I want for myself, which means not just frogging back to the beginning of section number 2, but to the cast on.

Here's my point. If you cast on 30 stitches and work out a stitch over maybe 30 rows, you will know if it looks awesome with the yarn you are using in the colour you have. And you will know a huge ton faster than you will if you cast on 135 stitches and do the same. Yes, it might turn out that your 30-stitch swatch will look fantastic right out of the gate, but if it does, you will have the added pleasure of knowing you will be delighted with the end result the entire time you are knitting it.

Instead of frogging it while stoically not looking at the Clockwork project you could have finished by now and been wearing over your shoulders while swatching.

But hey, at least I did a good Halloween house.

No comments: